In the present investigation we evaluated the effect of stand-up paddle practice on upright postural control in older individuals. Participants were assigned to a group practicing stand-up paddle on seawater or to a walking control group. Balance stability was evaluated in the tandem Romberg and tiptoes postures, comparing the conditions of eyes open versus closed. Results showed that stand-up paddle practice led to reduced anteroposterior and mediolateral amplitudes of body sway in both visual conditions, while walking led to no effect on balance. These results suggest that the challenge of keeping body balance on an unstable board during on-water stand-up paddle practice is transferred to postural tasks performed on a stable support surface, with generalization to sensory and biomechanical conditions different from those experienced during the training. Our results suggest that on-water balance training could be considered as a potential procedure to improve balance control in older adults.
Keywords: aging; aquatic activities; balance training; unstable support.